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Annie K.
Member since Apr-02-04 · Last seen Apr-24-17
Annie Kappel

My YouTube channel, featuring pronunciations of non-English chess player names:

I'm 42 y/o, of Transylvanian origin, living in Israel since childhood. I speak English (no, really), Hungarian (great language!), and Hebrew (if I must, which is often, for some reason).

Afflicted with an uncontrollable sense of humor and other highly controversial characteristics.

I learned chess as a child, but had no further opportunities to practice the game. Returned to it seriously around 2004, and have been hanging out here since.

Note: if I am not home (i.e., here), you can probably find me at the Domdaniel chessforum, the SwitchingQuylthulg chessforum, the visayanbraindoctor chessforum, or the chessforum! :)


<My City of Moscow skits:>

<<<<<<>>>>> Kramnik's Party -> City of Moscow (kibitz #752)

<<<<<<>>>>> Sochi 2008: An F-Files Production -> City of Moscow (kibitz #774)


<Game Collection: My GOTD Puns>

<My favorites:>

Y Yu No Claim Repetition? - Yu Yangyi vs M R Venkatesh, 2012 - GOTD Jun-30-12

All Your Baze Are Belong To Us - L Baze vs T Palmer, 2004 - GOTD Mar-21-10


<My other (linkable) site contributions:>

* The Player Names Pronunciation Project: (or look for names with a loudspeaker icon in the Player Directory)

* Created on my suggestion: Biographer Bistro

* The first (now retired) Carlsen Dancing Rook:

* The Caruana Dancing Rook:

* The Hou Dancing Rook:


<<<<<<< MAJOR CHESS SITES <<>>>>>>>>>

<< Correspondence chess <<<<<<>>>>>>>>

< ChessWorld ->

ChessWorld is my new main chess playing base. It's a rather restrictive site for non-paying members, but one of the best sites for paying members. The full features include excellent interface options and first class study and analysis resources. Nice community, likeable admin. Paid membership recommended.

< Update: while I will leave the original entry for ChessWorld as-is, I have by now been a member of the site for 2 years, and am now an admin there. I still think the site is one of the best, and the <other> admins are nice. :p >

My ChessWorld profile:

< Queen Alice ->

Queen Alice is a charming site - well behaved players, decent admin, site design visually very pleasant. It is also completely free. Unfortunately, it lacks team play, the interface and resources are relatively simple, and it can be frustratingly slow (loading times). Nevertheless warmly recommended.

My QueenAlice profile:

< GameKnot ->

GameKnot is technically an excellent site, however I would not recommend it to the serious player who is looking for a site to settle in, due to an anti$ocial admin with ju$t one $ingle intere$t in hi$ $ite... oop$, $orry about the typo$.

My GameKnot profile:

<< Other chess sites <<<<<<>>>>>>>>

< FICS - the Free Internet Chess Server ->

FICS is a great site to play chess at various faster time controls. There are a few difficulties getting started with it - first, it can be hard to find an email they will accept for registration; and second, there's a lot of site code to learn. But it's worth the hassle. :)

< ChessCube ->

ChessCube is quite good for fast time control games - provided you have a strong computer with broadband, as the site is entirely Flash based, which means it takes considerable computer resources to load. The site is nominally free, but heavily commercialized with all sorts of frills that can be purchased on it.

< Emrald Chess Tactics Server ->

Emrald is not a playing site - it is an invaluable tactical training asset. The only problem with it is also the difficulty of finding an "acceptable" email address to register with; but once past that hurdle, the site deserves nothing but praise.

It's a completely free site. You can play (practice) there as a guest, but they recommend registering, so that their program can keep track of your progress, in order to assign you puzzles best suited to your current level. I strongly second that recommendation. Register and always play logged in! It will make a huge difference in the site's ability to help you improve. An issue that scares some people off Emrald is that your progress is tracked via a "rating system", and because of the high importance they assign to speed, if you are not used to finding tactics fast, your rating will be very low at first - and many people are simply embarrassed to play logged in for that reason. Don't let it bother you! If you let embarrassment hold you back from letting the site help you improve to the best of its ability, you are only shooting yourself in the foot, and nobody else really cares that much anyway. ;p

A few of the people I've recommended Emrald to, had dropped it after a brief trial with remarks along the lines of "Oh, it's a blitz training site. I don't play blitz, so I don't like their obsession with speed." That reaction is absolutely wrong - and it's also one that many people who try the site out for only a short time are likely to have, if only because players who are used to being rated, say, 2000 and above, at corr. chess sites, are going to be annoyed and put on the defensive about finding themselves rated as low as 1200-1300 at Emrald, and will wish to dismiss the "insulting" site.

Yes, the Emrald rating system is heavily influenced by speed. But thinking that the site's purpose is blitz training is a complete misunderstanding of the lesson taught. The real purpose of Emrald practice is not to improve your blitz skills, but to train you to recognize dozens of tactical themes and opportunities AT A GLANCE - which will not only save you time in games of any time control, but is often the only way you will catch them AT ALL. Those brilliant tactical shots that can be seen in anyone's collection of "most memorable games", are often moves that will either occur to you as soon as you glance at the position, or you will miss them altogether. That's what Emrald really teaches - tactical chess intuition.

<Intuition in chess can be defined as the first move that comes to mind when you see a position. --- <Viswanathan Anand>>

<Personally, I am of the view that if a strong master does not see such a threat at once he will not notice it, even if he analyses the position for twenty or thirty minutes. --- <Tigran Petrosian >>


^ TL;DR.

Any other questions, feel free to ask. I might even answer. ;p

>> Click here to see Annie K.'s game collections. Full Member
   Current net-worth: 1,700 chessbucks
[what is this?]

   Annie K. has kibitzed 7144 times to chessgames   [more...]
   Apr-17-17 Yifan Hou vs Carlsen, 2017 (replies)
Annie K.: This should be interesting!
   Apr-16-17 Chessgames Bookie chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: No worries, you're not alone here! :)
   Apr-15-17 Annie K. chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: <Hanh> thanks, and greetings to all of you! :) <Doc> I love pretty much everything you write these days. :D If there is any piece of advice I haven't mentioned yet, it may be that in the future you should probably avoid giving your characters a name that gives away too ...
   Apr-15-17 OhioChessFan chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: <Jess> English is my third language. ;) Good thing we've got the biographies safely backed up these days!
   Apr-12-17 moronovich chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: <moronovich: <Thanks to <Annie K> for all the (hard?) work !>> Hi :) If you're curious how much work is involved in running the Bookie, you could try running a leg yourself? ;)
   Apr-11-17 chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: editing current tournament intros: I usually just copy the write-up from <chess24> pretty much as-is, with credit/source link. My purpose is simply to provide and preserve this available information about the tournament while it's still easily accessible. Please do not
   Apr-08-17 SwitchingQuylthulg chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: Hi <Switch>! :) Here's an Amajeto with a chess theme: Of course you don't have to actually know how to play... Pretty daring of them as is, since the average escape game player tends to run screaming at the mere sight of a chess piece. ...
   Feb-22-17 WannaBe chessforum (replies)
Annie K.: Heh, no hurry! Thanks. :)
   Feb-20-17 WinKing chessforum (replies)
   Feb-14-17 Alekhine vs A Love, 1923 (replies)
Annie K.: <RandomVisitor: <Love conquers "Al".>> We have a winner! :)
(replies) indicates a reply to the comment.

Procrastinators' Club (planned)

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 256 OF 256 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Diamante kept on grinning. ‘As noted, we are Extraordinaire, the upgraded version of the Enhanced Possessed, and designed to destroy avatars, you silly Communicators. But there is no need for a fight. We don’t want to fight a combat avatar, like your client Oisa, as we could incur casualties. Fortunately we also have spells that work for all kinds of avatars.’

She touched a diamond on her necklace, as did the other Possessed. The gemstones glowed and shot out rays of white light into Oisa and the J’s. The surviving Communicators promptly stopped moving.

Oisa smiled at the ladies. Wings sprouted out of her back. A flaming doble espada appeared in her left hand. ‘Paralysis spells don’t work on me, my dears. Neither will any of your powers.’

‘An aar.. Arch Wing!’ Brillante stuttered.

As fast as a bee’s buzzing wing, Oisa beheaded the five Possessed. They crumbled into nothing.

‘Pretty old critters, for them to disintegrate so fast,’ Aya observed. ‘And by the Tela, a Compeller? For the humans they were the most feared of all the Possessed, able to take over their will. These were powerful Enhanced, probably survivors of the Dark War. I wonder who hired them?’

The Communicator avatars had begun to move upon the Maranhigs’ termination. ‘We.. have .. to.. report..,’ J-3 lisped out.

‘They’re witnesses too,’ Bodhi noted.

Oisa pleaded to the Communicator avatars. ‘You must know that if you tell on us, the subsequent investigation might harm our Order. I can assure you that we intend no harm to anyone, and no one else needs to die. All you have to do is keep quiet about this.’

J-1 was already moving normally. ‘Perhaps if you tell us what this is all about and we ascertain no one will be harmed, we can delay informing our Company.’

J-4 shook her head. ‘Our programming requires us to inform our Company of peculiar events such as this, that can be detrimental to it.’

J-1 raised up a hand. ‘But it has not been proven that this event is detrimental to our Company. Our conversations with them in the hover jet indicate that they are well-adjusted to human society and value human life. I suggest we wait this out, and go into observe and record mode.’

J-3 and J-4 looked at each other. Almost as one, they shook their heads.

‘I think we better report this anyway, just to make sure,’ J-3 opined.

J-4 nodded in agreement. She and J-3 touched their tabcom’s interphase pad in order to contact their Company.

‘Sorry,’ Oisa apologized. She struck like a cobra with her doble espada. J-3 and J-4’s heads flew off their shoulders. Their decapitated bodies disintegrated.

The coliseum wavered like strings of air plucked on a harp.

‘Dark Shift!’ Bodhi yelled. ‘We’re stuck!’

The Pentagram Portal fell on them.

Abruptly they were in another world; yet somehow it was the same coliseum. It was midafternoon and the sun shone on them bright. The Ares pentagram portal now enclosed them. Around them the darkling statues and huge black-haired humans had come to life. The darklings appeared different from those that invaded Tera, but there was no mistaking what they were. The large humans averaged seven feet tall, made of robust muscle packed in bronze skin. Some of them were decapitating smaller humans, paler of features but well-formed too.

The avatars raised their heads to the tiers.

The Coliseum Beauty looked down at them from her throne-like seat on the audience box above them. ‘It’s them!’ She stood up.

‘You may stop sacrificing the ulipon slaves,’ Pana announced. ‘We have successfully summoned four of the winged goddesses of legend.’

Premium Chessgames Member
  SwitchingQuylthulg: What happens when one player allows the other to take complete control of the center:

[Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site "Free Internet Chess Server"]
[Date "2017.03.21"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Quylthulg"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1922"]
[BlackElo "2055"]
[ECO "A40"]
[TimeControl "180"]

1. d4 b6 2. e4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6 4. Bd3 Bb4 5. Bd2 Bxc3 6. Bxc3 Nf6 7. f3 d5 8. e5 Nfd7 9. Nh3 Qh4+ 10. Nf2 c5 11. g3 Qe7 12. f4 Nc6 13. O-O cxd4 14. Be1 h5 15. h3 g5 16. f5 Ndxe5 17. fxe6 fxe6 18. Bb5 O-O-O 19. Bxc6 Bxc6 20. Nd3 Nc4 21. Bf2 Qc7 22. Qe2 Ne3 23. Bxe3 Qxg3+ 24. Qg2 Qxg2+ 25. Kxg2 dxe3 26. Rf6 d4+ 27. Kg3 Rde8 28. Ne5 Be4 29. a4 Rh7 30. a5 Rc7 31. axb6 Rxc2 32. bxa7 Rg2# {White checkmated} 0-1

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 10. An Arena in Bale>

Amidst the unceasing rumbling of the crowd, Pana easily jumped from her throne onto the arena grounds. In full armor, she strode to the Pentagram imprisoning Oisa, Bodhi, Aya, Alwana, and J-1 with the haughtiness of a queen. Darklings and humans made way for her, parting like an ebbing tide of monsters before a child.

She walked right into the pentagram. The crowd in the Coliseum murmured.

‘We have to maintain appearances,’ she immediately stated in Sinayabi. ‘This Bounded Pentagram is spelled to contain only high Dan darklings, which you essentially are. Same with these collars I’m holding. Who’s this?’

‘J-1, a Communicator avatar; she’s with us by accident,’ Oisa replied.

‘J-1, whatever happens, keep quiet. Just follow our lead. We don’t know exactly what we’ve gotten ourselves into,’ Bodhi advised.

‘I’m going to observe and record mode, our protocol if put in an unfamiliar situation,’ J-1 stated. ‘You don’t have to worry about me. I understand that while Oisa destroyed my two sisters out of what she thought was necessity, before that she also saved us from those Extraordinaire Possessed.’

Pana took five pentagram-shaped collars from her arm and aggressively thrust them toward the prisoners, still acting the arrogant queen. ‘You have to put this on your necks. I’m now Suprema here and they should see that I control you. Don’t act familiar with me; make as though you are fierce tigers grudgingly submitting to their human trainer.’

The Archs looked at each other. Oisa held up her wings. The entire coliseum audience of darklings and humans gawked at her, buzzing with anticipation. Oisa swung her Wings forward, brandishing them threateningly at Pana. Pana yelled at Oisa. Oisa’s face grimaced in terror and her wings drooped in submission.

Bodhi, Aya, and Alwana nearly laughed.

At the last moment they controlled themselves and shrieked out like stray dogs getting kicked out of a house by an irate owner. All five prisoners took the pentagram collars and put them on their necks. The crowd cheered (the humans) and hissed (the darklings).

Pana uttered some mumbo jumbos and the Pentagram prison disappeared. She spoke out in a dark-powered voice in Esperanto.

‘As you can see my minions, the terrible winged goddesses have surrendered to me and have accepted the Collar of Submission. Only one of them had the temerity to transform into her Winged Aspect, but even she has submitted. The Collars spell-bind them to accept commands by myself and selected members of our planetary Hierarchy. Now we have the weapon we need to repel the Sari.’

Pana jumped back into the amply large ruler’s box. She signaled the prisoners, who did the same. They were made to sit on the floor in front of Pana. The darklings she referred to as the Hierarchy sat on luxurious chairs on either side of Pana’s throne-like seat. Human attendants moved among them carrying chunks of meat.

The darklings did not look exactly like those that regularly invaded Tera on close-up. Instead of horns, they had tentacles tipped by barbs on their heads. Their tail and some extremities also looked as if they were modified tentacles.

A darkling detached itself from the Hierarchs’ group. Oisa could sense that it was a Dan 41 Prince.

‘Your Excellency,’ the Dan 41 bowed before Pana. ‘It’s possible that our Suprema has forgotten the games in all the excitement.’

‘Oh yes. I acknowledge your reminder, Taklong.’

‘Let the celebration games commence,’ Pana announced into the coliseum in a flat but dark-powered voice. Her face was impassive, and somehow reluctant. She was greeted by more cheers and hisses.

The arena was quickly cleared. The Wings noticed small catapults emplaced randomly on the arena grounds. A smaller man of normal physique was paired against a seven foot gladiator. The smaller fighter had pale skin, and hair that looked to be bleached almost to colorlessness, unlike the usual Teran blue, green, red, and yellow. The larger man had slightly fair yellowish-tinged skin similar to the avatars, and jet black thick hair similar to Elam’s. Underneath his armor, he was clearly all robust bones and corded muscles. Both kneeled before Pana, shouting ‘Our lives for the Suprema’, then faced off. Although also armored, the smaller man seemed to cower before his mighty opponent, who promptly brought his sword down, bisecting the former’s head sagitally. The crowd roared. The winning warrior kneeled before Pana, once again, and then exited always facing toward her.

‘The small one is an Esdi, the slave race of our planet Bale. The large one is a Kempatay, the master human race of this world,’ Pana explained in Sinayabi.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: What followed had the Wings gaping in horror. More Esdi slaves came running out of the doors at the side of the arena. They dragged the corpse and placed it on a catapult. The body was thrown into the left side of the arena’s tiers, which was peopled only by darklings, while the right side was reserved for humans. The darklings on which the body fell on tore it to pieces and ate it up.

Pana gestured at the macabre feast. ‘Darklings have the ability to change sexes. In this world they have a choice to reproduce either by normal mammalian methods; or by dark-empowered methods which is akin to MDEs creating avatars. The darklings that adopt the mammalian sexual method may form families with their young, and they often go out as a group to the Bulang-Tawo coliseums for their entertainment. They get to eat the corpses.’

Round two featured 50 hesitant Esdis against a team of 25 raring-to-go Kempatays. Some of the Kempatay were women. Swords, maces, nets and tridents, went into action. Blood and gore spilled. In the end, only 22 Kempatays were left alive, two of them lying on the ground unable to get up because of their injuries. The leader of the Kempatays promptly decapitated his two incapacitated teammates. The survivors kneeled before Pana, and then exited always facing her with salutatory stiffness. More slaves entered and catapulted all the dead human bodies, Esdi and Kempatay alike, into the darkling section. Hissing and hooting with ravenous joy, the darklings devoured the corpses.

‘These Esdi gladiators are selected males with minor genetic defects that make them prone to anything from asthma to a stroke. They’re destined for the darkling stomach without reproducing, but it won’t affect the Esdi birthrate as females are preserved as much as possible until menopause. All physically fit women are required to mate with state-approved phenotypically ideal males or get artificially inseminated by their sperms for their first two children; later children are by men of their choosing that they usually marry in a normal human manner. It’s basically the same with the Kempatays; except that their gladiators are professionals working for monetary reward, and have earned the right to preferentially reproduce. Prior to any fight, they secure the right to mate with any unmarried Kempatay female and are required to deposit their sperms in a bank, to be used later to artificially inseminate volunteers of which there is no lack of. The vast majority of the Kempatay women do want to get pregnant by a Kempatay gladiator.’

A Hierarch on their right turned to Pana, puzzled why she was talking to the captured goddesses in a language he could not understand. Pana scowled at him. The darkling averted his gaze immediately.

Round three featured simultaneous one on one fights. They chose their own weapons. All were Kempatay.

Pana waved at the bodies being collected and catapulted at the end of the round. ‘The Kempatay’s families will be well-compensated by their deaths. Their relatives rise in social status thanks to the slain gladiators’ prestige, and use the reward money to pay debts, invest in businesses, and campaign for political positions, which have not essentially changed since the pre darkling era. They can rise high in the government of Bale, although mayors and governors by law have always been darklings.’

The fourth round saw groups of Kempatay in battle melees. As with all the previous encounters, the fights were usually brief. So quick, skilled, and lethal were the competitors in spite of their immense bulk. Below the Suprema’s box, a five man battle typically ended with three of the warriors getting stabbed from their blind side, leaving two men. A block, feint, and a thrust to the chest left one winner, who shortly later was killed by another survivor from the other fights.

Taklong stood up and spoke in a dark-powered voice to the Coliseum audience. ‘And now for the finale. Kempatay gladiator champions in the past decade have decided that instead of being euthanized as darkling sacrifice upon retirement, they would go down fighting in the arena, in honor of our Suprema's victory over the Winged goddesses.’

Fifty Kempatay warriors marched in with much fanfare, cheers, hisses, and salutations. They bowed and saluted Pana, ‘Our lives for the Suprema.' All of them looked to be at least 7 foot tall, made of hulking muscle beneath their armor. They stood and crouched in various fighting positions.

Taklong leaped into the arena. His hooves crushed a man’s helmet and head on landing. Before they could react, he decapitated the warriors nearest to him with repeated slashing of his talons. One fighter tried to stab him in the back and was met with a pointed tail thrusting into the heart. The Prince jumped again and landed in the middle of a group of gladiators, spinning around, with his steel-hard wings transecting through various body parts. He continued slashing his way into his opponents with his talons. He killed the last onrushing gladiator by goring the human’s head with erect barbed head tentacles.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Taklong raised his hands. ‘Feast and be merry!’ he yelled. The darklings among the audience jumped into the arena and savagely commenced devouring the human bodies.

Pana began a narrative amidst the gory feast.

‘There used to be many human races in this world. 500 years ago, a genocidal world war occurred among the humans, triggered by intolerant ideologies and theologies, a colonial economic system that suctioned all wealth into a handful of giant primate cities that left the rest of the planet intractably impoverished, and a well-meant genetic engineering program for terminally ill patients gone wrong. After fifty years, only two world polities remained, in an uneasy cold war. The ancestors of the Kempatay then managed to summon darklings successfully in their struggle against the Esdi progenitors. The darklings turned on their summoners, subdued the whole of Bale, but their high Dans decided to keep the humans around as a food crop and as slaves. In recognizance of their summoners, the darklings’ leaders, the Hierarchy, rewarded the Kempatay ancestors with the status of Privileged and demoted the rest of humanity, the Esdis, to slavery. In order to breed the meatiest of humans for their mouths, and in order to do away with as much of wasteful veterinary human medicine as possible, the Hierarchy allowed and aided the Kempatays and Esdis to continue with a modified eugenics program that would breed their ideal phenotypes, both in aesthetics and health. Thus you see these modern humans before you. They don’t suffer much from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and most degenerative diseases. It’s not too bad for them; they retain essentially the same human families and societies as before except for that fact that darklings now rule them and harvest them. They end their lives as darkling food after old age has impaired them to the point of disability. The system has worked; there are now 30 billion Esdis in Bale, owned by 1 billion Kempatay, and ruled by a million darklings and their Hierarchy of a hundred, in keeping with the pyramidal political structure that the Hierarchy has mandated.’

One of the Esdi attendants was looking curiously at the Pana, unable to understand Sinayabi. The darkling Hierarch, a Dan 59, whom she was serving promptly bit off her head, swallowed, then drained her neck’s gushing blood into his mouth.

Pana stood up, cast her gaze around at the Hierarchs, and finally focused on the disrespectful Demon King. ‘I told you all no killings around me without my permission. You’re new to the Hierarchy, aren’t you? What did you do to deserve your position?’

The Demon, noticing the sudden danger, also stood up, bowed, but insolently kept his eyes up. ‘Yes, Suprema; I was promoted just last week after I killed my predecessor in a Challenge duel. She happened to be one of Bale’s best fighters, a Hierarchy Mistress of Arms; so I fully deserve my advancement and my privileges. Your Excellency surely must know that we Hierarchs are allowed to question your decisions.’

Pana raised her eyebrows. ‘So it was you that bested Kahadlokan. Nevertheless I must point out that you are being disrespectful. You haven’t even stated your name.’

‘I am Baskog, Suprema. May I remind Her Excellency that it is part of her duty to recognize all of the Hierarchy, even the newly promoted ones.’

‘You’re the strongest of the new Initiates. I’ve read your files. I could not take time off to do the Initiation ceremony myself because I was busy at that time. Very well, Baskog. What decision do you question?

Oisa, Bodhi, Aya, and Alwana scanned the Hierarchs as discretely as they could. Below them darklings were feasting and celebrating, but in the Suprema’s box, the tension was palpable. All the Hierarchs were staring at Pana the way a pack of wolves look at a stranded deer. Taklong stood up at Pana’s side.

‘Most of us are used to the ancient law that you have suspended in your presence, that we can eat any human anytime we want.’

‘Even that rule only applies to Esdis. You have to ask permission from a Kempatay’s darkling mayor or governor before you can eat it.’

‘But the girl I just ate wasn’t a Kempatay,’ the darkling Regent pointed out.

Pana’s bow appeared in her hands. A blue tipped arrow flew at near the speed of light and penetrated the Demon’s left eye. He fell down and crumbled into dissipating dust.

‘Taklong, what was the ancient law that he broke?’ Pana asked rhetorically.

‘No arguing with the Suprema in public,’ Taklong replied by rote.

On their right, a Dan 53 growled, ‘Baskog wasn’t arguing, just stating a position.’

‘I just stated Baskog was arguing; now you’re arguing against that?’ Before anyone could add to the argument, Pana shot the Dan 53 through her eye too. She turned to dust.

‘Anymore arguments?’ Pana asked.

All the Hierarchs placed their hands behinds their necks and bowed in submission.

‘I thought not,’ Pana opined. ‘Games are over. You are now dismissed.’

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 11. Echoes of Echoes>

The Suprema’s mine-resistant ambush-protected armored vehicle sped through a highway of Bale’s capital city Magahum. Inside were Pana, the Archs, and J-1. They were surrounded by other MRAPs acting as security and decoys. Taklong was driving and speaking in Esperanto.

‘No darkling nowadays randomly eats an Esdi without due cause, unless he’s crazy. Since Baleian law declares such individuals susceptible to legal assassination by any other darkling and given our proclivity to personal rivalry, they usually don’t last long. We already get enough humans to eat from the aged and injured people that the hospitals declare as permanently disabled. Baskog’s behavior was clearly an intended aggravation. This must be another plot against you Suprema. If I may say so, you behaved in just the appropriate manner that darklings understand and respect. I’ll get to the bottom if this new conspiracy soon.’

Pana sighed. ‘We’ll talk about it later Taklong.’

Alwana butted in impetuously, speaking in Sinayabi. ‘So Bale does have a system of checks that protects humans?’

‘Quiet!’ Aya elbowed Alwana.

‘It’s alright; you can talk in front of Taklong. He does not understand Sinayabi,’ Pana said. ‘And I have already told him I will be conversing with you a lot. Yes, there are laws and customs that protect humans from causeless darkling attacks. Otherwise the darklings would have eaten up all the humans a long time ago. Bale is an integrated darkling-human planet, well-adjusted after centuries of co-habitation.’

Bodhi gestured at the city scenery outside rushing by their dark-tinted windows. ‘Such checks are to be expected. However, I was thinking that the city center for the entire planet would be larger than this. Your Magahum capital looks like one of Alogostan’s provincial cities. No skyscrapers or large construction complexes. Just two story buildings and houses, with lots of interspersed vegetation.’

‘The original Hierarchs decreed against primate cities, recognizing that their uncontrolled growth contributed substantially to the wars and collapse of pre-darkling human civilization in Bale. Human resistance fighters hiding in buildings and waging urban guerrilla warfare also bothered them when they were first summoned. So they just literally tore down the old cities and initiated a massacre, or should I say a feast, that wiped out all but about a million humans, mostly citizens of the pro-Kempatay nation that summoned them and those from their rival Esdi nation as their slaves. You see their genetically enhanced descendants today. The entire planet resembles a continuous conglomeration of small cities and towns, with the darklings as a kind of aristocracy. I just happen to live in this particular city, as Suprema.’

Bodhi scratched her head. ‘That’s weird. An industrialized computerized slave-owning feudal society with a hereditary ruling caste made of alien beings. Yet at the same time it’s decentralized?’

‘A coincidental and beneficial effect, stemming from the darkling hostility to concentrations of political power. The numerous so-called provinces in name are more like tiny cooperative nations, and even the cities and towns possess a large degree of autonomy. As in most such systems, Bale’s local governmental units exhibit high economic productivity and political stability. I actually don’t have much to do, except to arbitrate inter-city and inter-provincial spats and terminate any would-be usurper to my title as Suprema.’

‘How did the human population balloon to more than 30 billion in 450 years?’ Oisa asked.

‘The Kempatay owners mass-produce Esdi slaves as sellable assets. We do the same all the time with farm animals. The darklings loved it of course as it translates to more food.’

‘By cloning?’

‘No, by more mundane means. Esdi females in the first three hundred years were required to take fertility drugs. A typical Esdi family used to have more than a dozen children each.’

‘You mean they were treated like cattle for the slaughterhouse?’

‘No. As I said, only people that got disabled by old age, illness, or accidents went to the darklings as sacrificial food. So Baleian humans lead pretty much normal productive lives, at the end of which they get eaten by the darklings.’

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  visayanbraindoctor: Their vehicle arrived in a two hectare compound of interconnected buildings and other structures. From a garage, Pana made her way via a maze of enclosed walkways and tunnels to her private suite located in an underground bunker, bringing only the Wings and J-1, and leaving behind Taklong and the escorts from the other MRAPs.

In the privacy of her rooms, Pana rushed to the Wings and attempted embracing them all at once. J-1 stood to one side as if on auto mode.

‘I’m so glad to have found you!’

‘So are we,’ all four Arch Wings blurted out. For a minute, they looked like a bunch of giggling high school classmates that had not seen each other since summer vacation. Pana went over to a large wardrobe and changed into cargo pants and a blouse with two breast pockets. The Wings did the same.

‘You seem to have fitted in quite nicely in this world, Pana,’ Aya waved around the room. It looked like a five-star hotel room back in Tera, except that the walls were etched with numerous glyphs that acted as wards against spies and intrusive spells. The girls had settled themselves sitting on chairs around a table.

‘Yeah, once I learned that the darklings follow the Challenge Code in deciding who their leaders would be, I eliminated any potential rival, with the help of some allies. I’ve been here for year.’

‘What!’ Alwana exclaimed.

‘You know that time runs differently in other realms, Alwana,’ Oisa reminded her. ‘It runs faster, slower, accelerates, decelerates, stops, and starts. For us dear Pana, you’ve haven’t been gone for even a fortnight.’

‘What kind of world is this?’ Bodhi asked. ‘Somehow it feels familiar.’

‘As far as I can tell, physically it’s a combination of the Telar echoes of Tera and Ares. If you notice, you feel slightly heavier here than on Tera. It’s like the two planets have fused, hence the heavier mass. In this Solar System, there is only one rocky planet in the zone where Tera and Ares are located in ours. Maybe that’s how you got here from Ares of all places.’

‘Sociologically, I believe it’s an echo of Tera where darklings have conquered the world. This would be one type of society that such conquest would result in, if the darklings somehow controlled themselves from eating all the humans to extinction.’

‘Where does the Sari enter?’ Bodhi asked. ‘You said in the Coliseum that’s the official reason for your Summoning us, as weapons against them.’

‘Oh, yes that. The Sari are an echo of Teran and Baleian humans from a planet similar to ours, although some of them have been heavily modified through genetic engineering and selective breeding. Their planet is called Saria. Our relative vectors have brought Bale’s star and that of Saria’s just a light year apart. The two star systems are almost at a head-on collision and at their shortest distance, but luckily will just miss each other. However, considering the short separation distance involved, some of the two star systems’ outer spherical clouds of icy planetesimals have merged.’

‘That’s interesting,’ Oisa commented.

Pana continued with her narrative. ‘A Great Dark Shift occurred in the Sari’s realm a million years ago when they were located at a greater distance, with their planet, Saria, as the epicenter. As in Tera, Anachronistas Occurred there, a Dark War ensued, the Anachronistas won, and then they voluntarily De-occured. The difference is that with a million years to play around with scientifically advanced Anachronista technology, Saria is far more advanced than Tera or this planet Bale, both in material science and the dark arts. Tera and Bale are approximately at the same technological level and their inhabitants confined to their home planet. On the other hand, the Sari have colonized hundreds of planets, asteroids, and comets in their home star system and in neighboring ones, both as mining assets and as livable worlds, initially using Telar increment drives in order to establish Folded Connections. Some of these planets actually have more Telar echoes of humans, but these subspecies have acculturated into Sari society. They are collectively called the Sari-sari or the Nangin-Sari, their worlds the Nangin-Saria.’

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  visayanbraindoctor: Aya raised her eyebrows. ‘So we’re actually up against several human-populated planets, not just one? Isn’t this planet going to collide with the other star systems that the Sari colonized within its vicinity?’

‘Not if they got colonized a long time ago,’ Bodhi pointed out. The star systems would have moved apart by now. Saria must have maintained contact with them through Folded Connections. Even though travel through a Folded Connection is instantaneous, there would be no temporal paradox involved since the Folds between two points are first established when a Master of Dark Energy travels from point A to B below the speed of light before making the Connection.’

‘Yes, that’s exactly what happened,’ Pana confirmed. ‘Folded Connections exist throughout the Sari-sari Confederacy, connecting its component planets.’

Alwana tapped on her table. ‘How the heck did Bale get into trouble with the Sari? And how are we even to fight such an advanced million year old civilization?’

Pana looked at her sisters quizzically. ‘You’re goddesses, you know?’

‘Don’t be a dork, Pana.’

‘I am not. In both Bale and the Nangin-Sari worlds, beings like you are regarded as the incarnation of fundamental principles that are part of the Tela itself. It has never occurred to you, I know, but what if you Arch Wings go over to Saria and slay every Sarian there is on that planet? Suppose your programming allows you to freely kill non-Teran humans?’

Alwana, gaped at Pana aghast. ‘I would never do that!’

‘No you would not, but if you could and would, could even a million year old civilization stop you?’

‘No they would not be able to stop us,’ Oisa suddenly interjected. Her expression had turned darkly brooding. ‘When I was Black Oisa in Lima’s realm, I had flashes of memories. Perhaps most of them are of ghost realities, but I feel sure that somewhere in these ghostly or real past, or maybe future, and perhaps several times already, I together with fellow Arch Wings have destroyed advanced civilizations millions of years old, that were creating adharma in the Tela itself. Maybe that is a fundamental function of Arch Wings. We keep the multiverse as it is meant to be.’

Pana nodded. ‘Saria’s civilization (or perhaps I should say civilizations plural) has suffered critical disruptions that nearly wiped it off in the past, so many of them that the Sari themselves do not have an accurate account of their history beyond ten thousand years past. Some of their legends recall conflict with beings similar to or the same as Arch Wings. From what I can glean, they have gone into nuclear wars and into near fatal Tela tampering activities. They’ve triggered Great Dark Shifts and Telar backlashes. Thanks to this series of civilization catastrophes they are not so far advanced as to be incomprehensible to Terans.’

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  visayanbraindoctor: ‘Telar backlashes?’

Pana looked uncomfortable. ‘According to their legends, some of their past civilizations caused voids in the Tela, around which beings of singular purposes and possessing god-like powers appeared. They correct adharma thus keeping the multiverse as it is meant to be. Civilizations got destroyed; but new ones took their place, after the corrections.’

‘Oisa is right,’ Bodhi opined. ‘If we Archs have no programming that forbids us to slay the Nangin-Sari; and if their planets don’t have Demon Empresses, gods, or other Arch Wings to contend with us, we could just fly over there at the speed of light and mess them up.’

Alwana slammed a hand down. ‘What the heck? I won’t. What are we; death angels of the cosmos? I am not getting into a war in a realm that’s alien to me and not my own. My desires are quite simple. Stay in Tera, free our countrymen from Tunga City, stay together as a Household. Truth is that I don’t even care about slaying darklings; and do it only because my programming tells me so. Don’t you all feel it?’

‘Yes, we all do. Don’t get miffed, Alwana,’ Pana said. ‘Come on sis. Aren’t you glad I’m still alive?’

Bodhi looked thoughtful. ‘Speaking of you being alive, you haven’t died by fading, Pana. I mean I’m happy you haven’t, but we can deduce certain things from it. Black Oisa’s infusion of magic into our Seal seems to have worked. In addition, you must still be metaphysically connected to it across the Tela. An avatar can’t live totally cut off from her Seal.’

Pana suddenly looked forlorn. ‘I am fading. Our Seal is too far away. It’s just occurring slowly. I can feel it. Anytime soon, I expect that the fade-out process will accelerate. The same will probably happen to you in a year. We have to get back to Tera’s realm. I don’t have much time; maybe only a few weeks, perhaps only days. But don’t worry. I have a plan. I would never have Summoned you here so you can also fade away to die after a year or so.’

‘What’s your plan then? And the Coliseum Portal falling on us in Ares did not seem like a Summoning to me,’ Aya observed.

‘A Summoning does not necessarily look like it to the one being Summoned,’ Pana said. ‘For you, it could have looked like a natural series of events. Ares you say? I want to know what the hell happened to you. I’ll tell you about my plan later.’

Pana went over to the room’s refrigerator, grabbed four beer cans, and threw them at the Archs, who deftly caught them.

‘Beer?’ Aya held her can doubtfully.

‘Come on, I insist. Let’s tagay- drink and tell. It’ll be fun.’

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  visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 12. To Drain a Star>

For the next hour, the four Archs regaled Pana with the situation in Tera and their Ares adventure.

‘OK, we’ve told you our story. Now don’t squirm out of it. What’s your plan, Pana?’ Bodhi insisted.

Pana sighed. ‘It’s to merge part of our realities, here in the Bale-Sari system and in Tera. During the merge, we can exist in both realms. After they split apart again, we consciously stay in Tera. I know how to do it because I have a pre-Shift memory of such an event occurring.’

Bodhi stared at her. ‘You’ve got to be kidding. You’re talking about entire star systems. Apart from darkquakes, which are inherently mostly uncontrollable, the only way that can happen is if two great nexus events are synchronized in the two merging material realms.’

‘Yes and the Sari have scheduled such an event. They are planning to activate a Star Drainer.’

Oisa looked blank, Aya confused, Bodhi puzzled, J-1 silent as usual, but Alwana perked up. ‘I have a memory of such a Dark machine. It drains the material contents of a star in a Realm A, sending it across a Connection in the Tela to another Realm B. In order to do that, a similar machine in Realm B must do the same to a star there and send an equivalent amount of matter into Realm A. Although superficially just coincidence and serendipity, the two events are metaphysically linked across the Tela, so that parts of the two Realms or Domains merge. It’s as if there is only a single event, a single Draining of a star.’

‘Why the hell would anyone want to drain a star of its matter?’ Oisa asked.

Alwana cleared her throat. ‘Tera’s Sun, or Sol, is a g-type star which stays on the main sequence for about 10 billion years. During the latter half of that sequence, the Sun will swell up into a red giant, possibly swallowing up Tera and certainly making life there impossible. On the other hand, a k-type star stays on the main sequence for 15 to 30 billion years. Such a star possesses .45 to .80 solar masses. If one could convert Sol into a k-type or even just a lighter g-type star by draining it of some of its material, it would prolong its lifespan in the main sequence. Subsequently the conditions for life in its habitable zone would last further. It has to be calculated carefully as the decrease in the mass of the star also weakens its gravitational pull and so its livable planets would drift further away, and might end up outside the habitable zone.’

There was a moment of stunned silence. ‘I am flabbergasted,’ Bodhi announced, looking flabbergasted.

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  visayanbraindoctor: ‘A million year old civilization versed in the Dark Arts and Telar manipulation could reasonably build a machine that could reengineer a star. But Tera isn’t that advanced,’ Aya pointed out. ‘If I follow this correctly, you need an echo of the Sarian machine somewhere in the multiverse, and specifically located in the Teran solar system, that would do this for our Sun.’

Bodhi raised a hand. ‘Furthermore, if the Sari intend to Drain Saria’s star, why would it affect Tera’s star, which is an echo of Bale’s star? After all, Bale’s star and Saria’s star are two different stellar systems.’

Pana smiled. ‘I’ll answer the second question first. Because of their short distance of separation, parts of the two star systems have already merged, as I’ve mentioned before. From the Tela’s perspective, the Bale and Saria star systems are presently almost the same unit. A massive nexus event in Saria would involve Bale as well.’

Alwana nodded, ‘I see.’

‘To answer the first question, there is such a machine in our Solar system. It’s in the Mysterious Coliseum in Ares. I confirmed it after I applied the spells, with the aid of my Baleian darkling Sorcerers, that enabled me to see through the Ares Coliseum portal.’

‘Really? Who built it?’ Alwana asked.

‘The Teran Anachronistas during the Great Dark Shift. Some of them came from technologically advanced civilizations where it was normal for them to drain their stars of matter in order to delay their transformation into red giants. They thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing to our Sun. They used dark energy from slain darklings in the Dark War to power it up. It’s designed to establish a random Connection to a star-system in another realm that contains another Star Drainer, and that turned out to be Saria where MDEs were also creating a machine that happened to be an echo of it. The Anachronistas decided to build it in uninhabited Ares to keep it away from Tera in case things went sour; one never knows what exactly will happen when one is establishing Connections to other realms. They De-occurred before they could use it. During the reality shift that accompanied their De-occurrence, I deduced that the machine somehow merged with the Coliseum in our present. It’s one of the pyramidal thingies in the Ares Coliseum.’

‘How do you know that? You’re in Bale, not in Ares.’

‘When I built the Portal used in your Summoning 6 months ago, it opened into the Ares Coliseum beside the Star Drainer machine there, probably because that machine was already linked to the one in Saria in this realm. I actually wanted my Portal to lead to Tera itself, but the inter Portal path punched through the weakest part of the Tela, which is the Fold between the Saria and Ares Star Drainer machines.’

‘You’ve been one busy girl, Pana,’ Aya commented admiringly.

Pana nodded. ‘Now here’s the crux. The Sari designed their Star Drainer in such a way that it would release their star’s matter into Tera in our realm. The Star Drainer pyramid in the Mysterious Coliseum in Ares would in turn drain our Sol’s matter to this planet Bale. In so doing, both Bale and Tera would be destroyed.’


Pana smiled. ‘So you see, my summoning you here is of colossal importance to Tera itself. We need to screw up the Sari’s plans.’

‘Why the heck would they want to destroy Tera? How do they even know there is a Tera?’ Alwana asked.

‘They know of the Teran system because that’s where their mirror Star Draining operation will occur; and they have apparently been studying it for years through advanced Dark Arts. They want to destroy Bale because they fear darklings. They always attack and destroy any darkling-controlled world in this realm that they encounter, and in any other material realm that they come into contact with. I don’t blame them. Terans would do the same in the Milky Way if they develop sufficient space faring capabilities. They want to destroy Tera because they apparently believe the Anachronistas lost the Dark War and that darklings now control our planet. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion; maybe their Dark Arts spy techniques on our realm went awry.’

‘How do you know so much about the Sari?’ Bodhi inquired.

‘I came into contact with a Sarian in Deceptive Disguise months ago.’

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  visayanbraindoctor: ‘You detected Sarians in Deceptive Disguise? I thought only specialized combat avatars such as Chef Luto had the capability of penetrating such a Disguise,’ Oisa said.

‘Actually the Sarian voluntarily introduced herself to me. I’ll tell you about it later. To answer the technical aspect of your question, Father could penetrate through a Deceptive Disguise if he cast the proper spell over a suspect, although it takes a few minutes of effort. All MDEs could do the same. I believe that Father applied such a spell in the programming of Luto’s knife, which is how Luto got the ability in the first place. It’s not generally well known but Salig Commandos like me were also spell-programmed with that ability, just in case we encountered hostile Disguised agents in our infiltration missions. In my case, I’ve discovered that if any part of my gauntlets come into contact with a person in Deceptive Disguise, it emits a vibration that I can feel.’

Alwana had a surprised look on her face. ‘You never told us that!’

‘I lost the memory of how to wield this ability, although I do know that Gisaligans like me in theory came with a complete package of weapons both for combat and for spycraft, including this particular talent.’

Oisa straightened up on her chair impatiently. ‘Now that you’ve told us the general objective, how exactly are we to carry it out?’

‘We go to Saria via a Folded Connection my contact’s organization made.’


‘In addition to having the capability of doing Deceptive Disguises and draining stars, the Sari can make Telar Incremental Drives and Folded Connections. They seem to have been visiting Bale for hundreds of years, secretly. For them, it’s not that difficult to come here by Telar Incremental Vehicles and establish Folded Connections.’

Oisa drew out a breath. ‘I should have expected that. OK go on.’

‘Once in Saria, we go on standby near the Star Drainer. When the Sari commence the Star Draining spell, we hack it so that matter from Saria’s star erupts in the outer regions of the Teran solar system where it can’t do harm to lifeforms. Automatically, the material from our own Teran Sun will get released in the outer regions of the merged Saria-Bale star system.’

Bodhi stared at Pana. ‘You mean to tell us that we’re supposed to travel to an alien world where we don’t know anyone. Then somehow infiltrate what must be a heavily guarded project by a million year old civilization.’

‘The problem isn’t insurmountable,’ Pana said encouragingly. ‘As I’ve mentioned their present civilization rose up only ten thousand years ago, following their last catastrophe. Moreover, as I’ve implied, there is already an existing organization in Saria that wants the same thing we do.’

It took the four Arch Wings a few seconds to digest these facts. ‘OK, don’t look smug, Pana. Explain further,’ Bodhi told her.

Pana folded her hands. ‘Very well, but I think I will have to begin at the beginning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 13. Pana in Bale, Part 1>

“I first Occurred in Bale as part of an anomalous darkquake. Yes, darkquakes also happen here, but Bale’s resident darklings don’t like any rival groups barging in and have formed a highly efficiency planetary organization similar to the WDF to terminate them, named Alien Darkling Affairs. The Bale Hierarchy functions as their Veiled Commission.

I was lying in a shallow cave up in a mountain cliff. Blood was smeared all over the walls and floor. I was disoriented and instinctively crawled over to the cave’s entrance.

The first thing I saw outside was that of a group of darklings in combat formation flying from a camp on the mountain’s slope near me toward an unorganized rabble of another group of darklings below me. Human reporters with caps marked ‘Press’ were taking videos from the camp where the organized darklings had come from. That had me weirded out. The darklings also had appendages that looked as though they were modified tentacles. I did not know what to make of the scene.

Knowing that darklings can sense my avatar nature, I transformed to my Child Aspect. The human-associated darklings attacked. Two or more of their high Dans would hit a single hostile high Dan simultaneously. An enemy low Dan would be attacked and terminated by a single high Dan or several low Dans. They were well organized, and they actually carried firearms and RPGs. The battle finished a lot quicker than the ones fought in Tera by human MDEs. That is in just a few minutes rather than one to four days.

Afterward a darkling Adept flew to me. He had spotted me earlier when he shot an enemy darkling in midair near my perch. I was ready to Transform into my Arrow Form.

‘Hey kid, what the hell are you doing up here in a darkquake battle zone?’ The darkling flew inside the cave.

‘Damn!’ He was gesturing at all the blood. ‘Those you’re companions? You from the village near the camp? Stupid human kids, always climbing into trouble. See, your friends just got eaten by those alien darklings. You a defective Esdi? How the hell did you and your friends get up here?’

I was so surprised that my mouth must have hung open. The darkling was speaking in perfect Esperanto and was evincing no hostility.

I told him the simplest answer. ‘I don’t know, sir.’

‘You must have climbed up the trail up the cliff. Whatever. OK, I’m about to grab you and fly you over to the camp. Listen now, kid; if you struggle, I’ll just drop you off this cliff. I’m doing you a favor as it is.’

He then grabbed me and flew me to the camp. I did not offer much resistance because I was still confused and astonished that a darkling was actually trying to help me.”

The Archs’ mouths did hung open in astonishment. Pana grinned.

“The camp resembled the ones the WDF sets up near darkquake zones, with all the tents and buzzing human activity. Except that darklings clearly controlled the camp. They would issue directives to large humans that I later learned were called Kempatay, who then would order smaller humans around- you know, the Esdi.”

‘So you just woke up in a cave up a cliff?’ Bodhi interrupted. ‘How did that happen?’

“I’m not sure; although I strongly suspect that some Baleian cult actually summoned me in some dark ritual that also triggered the darkquake. I can’t ask them for details because my summoners got eaten by the darklings the darkquake brought in.”

‘OK. So what happened next?’

“The darklings in the camp mostly ignored me, but the first humans to see me backed off in disgust at my ugliness. They later detained me for being an abominable mestiza, a hideous crossbreed between a Kempatay and an Esdi.”

The four Arch Wings laughed. Pana glared at them. “Shut up, do you want me to continue?”

Sure dear,” Aya said. “It’s just we’ve never heard anyone in Tera call you ugly.’

Pana grimaced, and continued.

‘‘When I first arrived here, I was mistaken to be a defective Esdi that had somehow lost most of her memories. The humans here are echoes of Teran humans, and essentially belong to the same species, but I don’t look exactly like any Baleian, which proved to them I was a defective. Our features are similar to the typical Antiguan, which is like a cross between Esdis and Kempatays. My hair is colored distinctly yellow with a tinge of red, and that doesn’t exist here. Esdis have hair that resembles bleached fiber; the Kempatays’ are jet black. I was assumed to be a hybrid mestiza between the two races and that’s regarded as an abomination. So when I got captured the Baleians automatically sent me to the fighting pits as a defective Esdi.’’

‘Damn! You were a gladiator?’

‘Yes. I was known as the Coliseum Ugly and the Devil of the Gladiators for my looks and prowess.’

The four Arch Wings laughed again. Pana threw dagger looks at them.

‘Sorry dear,’ Aya apologized.

After a pause of several seconds, during which time her sulking face could not be drawn, Pana continued.

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  visayanbraindoctor: “No one bothered to ask where I came from. The Baleian law was clear. All defective humans, Esdi or Kempatay, were to provide meat for the gladiators’ swords in the fighting pits. I was turned over by the camp organizers for a minimal fee to Bato Company, Inc. It’s one of the commercial companies that specializes in the Bulang-Tawo, what Terans would call gladiator contests.

Except for their disgust at my face, I was treated quite well. The law also mandated that anyone that fought in the contests was to be treated with respect before an event that could be her last. I was even asked who my closest relatives were so they could acquire my personal possessions when I died. I told them I did not have any, and my handlers left it at that. They seemed happy because it cut down on their paperwork.

Next day, I was brought to the nearest town from the darkquake zone. I was pushed into a caged rink together with a dozen defective Esdis and four criminally condemned Kempatays. No one had any weapon. It was a hand to hand scenario.

With so many darklings around, including some in the audience, I had decided to maintain my Child Aspect. As you probably have guessed by now, the darklings forbid the creation of avatars and the training of Sealed human MDEs, as they could become rivals. I did not know how Baleians would react to me if they found out I was an avatar. Now in my Child or Beauty Aspect, I am unarmored, but I still have nearly all the strength and speed of my Arrow form. These Aspects could be deemed as elaborate masks, similar to Deceptive Disguises, except that they are real intrinsic parts of me, designed to fool people into thinking I am human.

I thought it was the end. I knew my programming prevents me from directly harming or killing humans. What I did was the simplest strategy. I ran and ran from fights, until only two of my opponents were left, who unsurprisingly were two powerful Kempatays. They apparently had made a silent agreement to terminate me before they squared off.

One of them positioned himself in front of me; the other behind. Then they rushed me.

I scooted out of their incoming bodies. They inadvertently collided. I used that distraction to jump up the back of one of them, piggy back. I grabbed his head and snapped his neck at C-2 C-3 level, paralyzing his diaphragm and chest muscles. The remaining one tried to grab me. I ducked and jabbed him in the solar plexus. As he doubled over in pain, stepped to his side and I punched him again on his temple. I did not have a gauntlet on, but even with my bare fist, I have the power to fracture a human skull and mash the brain inside. He fell down, with a fatally squashed midbrain.

The crowd was stunned into silence. Then a roar rose. ‘Ugly, Ugly, Ugly.’ That moniker stuck in my later fights.

I was stunned too. I had killed two humans. Apparently our programming prevents us from killing Terans, not humans from other planets. Nevertheless my mind and body felt terrible after the fight. I excused myself into a bathroom and vomited out all of my stomach juices.

Afterward, my prime handler, the surprised owner of Bato Company, had me spar with his best gladiators. We used all sorts of weapons or none at all. A handful would be regarded as extremely good, even better than Alogostani frogmen commandos. These people were bred for physical prowess after all. But of course any avatar would best them easily. I exerted just enough effort to beat them but not injure them.

The owner’s name is, well you guessed it, Bato. He is a septuagenarian Kempatay, whose career was on the dregs, as his recent gladiator recruits have racked up a steady loss. He was also a former gladiator himself from his teens to his fifties. Unfortunately his business acumen was as bad as his gladiatorial skills were good. Several deceitful partners had malversed funds from his company and set him up for Bulang-Tawo losses. He told me that he had never seen such fighting skill as I displayed. He swore that he would give anything within his power to me, as long as I kept on winning. I was his ticket to success.

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  visayanbraindoctor: My next fight was slated a week later. It was held in a city coliseum, near where the darkquake that brought me had occurred. Bato Company was almost bankrupt and its bad record had kept Bulang-Tawo pits from inviting it, except to provide human fodder to be killed. Bato had borrowed money from a bank in order to bribe the City Councilors to invite him. By his estimation, his Company would make just enough cash to pay back the bank and keep its credit line open.

The format was ideally suited to me. We were paired against another Bulang-Tawo Company. Each Company would send in a fighter that would fight each other with a weapon chosen randomly before each fight. The winner would face the next fighter from the opposing Company without a break. After all the designated fighters from one Company had died, the Company with the surviving gladiator was declared winner.

I requested Bato that he save me for the last, as it would be best to have me fresh near the endgame of the Company duel. My real reason is that I feared that killing more humans would incapacitate me or drive me insane. Unfortunately Bato’s fighters were a lot worse than our opposition. The 49 designated fighters ahead of me got killed. I still had to face forty straight humans that day, Esdi and Kempatay alike.

I killed them all, quite easily. Given any weapon- sword, mace, shield, spear, trident, knife, shuriken- I simply used my preternatural speed and strength to score a direct hit on their heads. Nothing like those fanciful martial arts movements you see in TV fights. Thrice I was given a bow and arrow. I found out that I could not shoot my opponents. My hands trembled and I could barely hold on to the bow. They shot at me of course. I dropped my bow, batted their arrows out of the air with my hand, walked over to them, and bashed their brains in with my fist. After every two or three fights, I would slink off to a corner of the arena and retch and vomit my guts out, before facing the next fighter. After I killed the last opposition fighter, I exited as quickly as I could, and promptly collapsed into a coma. Fortunately I woke up just as Bato was carrying me in his arms to a nearby private hospital across the coliseum. I would not answer any of his questions as to my odd behavior and bodily reactions, except to say I will give him the success he desired, as long as he stopped questioning me and if he makes sure I fight as few humans as possible.”

‘Damn! You were in hell, Pana,’ Aya interrupted.

“Yes I was. The guilt of killing humans gnaws in my chest like a rat eating my innards until now. But there was a silver streak in all my pain. Bato listened to me, and comprehended that I could die if I kept on terminating humans. He asked me if I could win a fight against a darkling. I said yes, but specified it had to be a low Dan Pawn, and only one on one. In order to confidently beat higher Dans, I would have to transform to my Arrow Aspect, and it would be evident to all that I was an avatar. It is known that the best Kempatay warriors, properly armored, could kill a darkling Pawn 1% of the time. I told Bato to trust me in this, and that owning an Esdi that could kill a darkling would catapult him to the Supremo’s Coliseum.

And so it happened. I was paired off with a darkling Pawn in the charter day celebrations of the province in the Provincial coliseum. The Darkling Governor, a Prince, personally attended. I donned on the lightest armor possible, and a knife. I knew that strength would have little to do with the fight. The speediest would win.

The Pawn stupidly rushed me. To the human eye, she was a blur, but I could see her alright. Moving faster than my opponent, I flicked the knife into her eye and leaped out of her onrushing body. The Pawn dissolved into dissipating dust. The crowd roared.”

‘Why didn’t the Bale darklings suspect that you were an avatar,’ Oisa asked.

“You know well that Salig Commandos like me are maximally designed for both combat and infiltration. I simply maintained my unarmored Child Aspect, and convinced my boss to hide me from all interviews and spell examinations. Baleian law allows that for gladiator owners. The audience thought that Bato had discovered an esoteric spell that allowed a human fighter to move with preternatural quickness.

After that, Bato would arrange one on one fights with darkling Pawns, at the rate of once or twice a week. In order to maintain the illusion that I was a defective Esdi, I would usually feign difficulty in terminating my opponents and prolong my fights. In between I trained new recruits for four hours a day, and then had the rest of the day off. The Company made millions of Bugus. (Oh yes, they do use Bugu coins here too.) My fights were always jam packed.”

Pana paused. The Archs looked on expectantly. ‘Well what new thing happened?’ Alwana asked.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: “Within a fortnight, I was already being treated not as an Esdi slave, but as an honored employee by the Company. Even its Kempatay employees would bow to me with respect. I was always billeted in suites in five star hotels. I was allowed to communicate and travel around as I pleased in my off hours, which of course I spent researching Baleian culture through the internet here and scoping out the public. I tried to keep my secret secret.

I soon learned that Baleian culture was a lot like Tera’s. We are echoes of one another. The darklings take the place of the WDF; the Hierarchy functions as their Veiled Commission. In public, darklings are hardly ever seen. Human life goes on as normal, in a society that’s approximately also at our technological level. The main difference is that there is a slave class, the Esdis. Or maybe not. The Esdis seem to be similar to Tera’s lower economic class, people born into poverty and with no hope of improving their financial situation. You might find this weird, but in spite of the ruthles dogmas that govern Baleian society, which includes throwing all genotypically and phenotypically defective people into the Bulang-Tawo pits, the Esdis are well taken care of in terms of food, shelter, clothing, education and medical needs. They can avail of vacation leaves. They marry and raise families, on the condition that their children belong to their Kempatay masters of course. The Esdis actually have longer average lifespans than the typical Teran lower class person. There are no such things as vagrants, beggars, hobos, or people that die for lack of meds in Bale.

After a month, I was going out into the public. I would go to malls, watch movies, eat in restaurants, walk in parks, browse through bookstores. I always wore heavy make-up and a hood or cap in order to hide my celebrity face from my horde of autograph and interview seeking fans, but all in all I felt I was falling into a normal human life; although I always kept on missing our Order’s presence and you gals of course.

But it was not to be. One day I went to a coliseum bathroom after a fight. An Esdi girl tried to slip me a piece of paper. I caught her hand instinctively. I was in full armor then, and my gauntlets vibrated. I instinctively knew that she was in Deceptive Disguise. By the way, that’s how I discovered my gauntlets can penetrate a Disguise. I drew back and assumed a defensive stance, but the girl just dropped the paper and fled.

Back in my hotel room I opened it. It read:

‘You are an alien combat avatar, Salig Commando class, from Tera. We mean no harm, or we would have revealed your identity to the Hierarchy by now. Saria will obliterate both Bale and Tera if we do not act now. We need your help. We can help you get back to your world. Meet me at the hotel park 8pm tonight.’

Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: <Doc> I'll just interrupt briefly to say that I think you're doing wonderful work here, exploring the tangent of a culture with full darkling - human coexistence. You tell a fascinating story. :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Alien Math: <Annie K.> Thanh sends her greetings and hopes all is well in your part of the world
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Annie K.: <Doc> I'll just interrupt briefly to say that I think you're doing wonderful work here, exploring the tangent of a culture with full darkling - human coexistence. You tell a fascinating story. :)>

Glad you like it. Maybe in the future I can think of more stories that take place mainly in Bale.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: <Hanh> thanks, and greetings to all of you! :)

<Doc> I love pretty much everything you write these days. :D

If there is any piece of advice I haven't mentioned yet, it may be that in the future you should probably avoid giving your characters a name that gives away too much of their nature, or irreversibly locks them into the positive/negative, or otherwise "simple-definition" role they hold at the time of their first introduction. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Alien Math: Saw your post on another page and thought it was neat that you have learned 3 languages,

glad you chose to have learned english since i'm sure any attempts to read or reply to you would probably be garbled beyond hope by mr google translate

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Annie K.: avoid giving your characters a name that gives away too much of their nature, or irreversibly locks them into the positive/negative, or otherwise "simple-definition" role they hold at the time of their first introduction>

Good advise.

I'm in an ongoing project to write and upload minority Philippine languages grammar books in you tube (apart from making daily hospital rounds and operating on heads), but I will try to stick to schedule and write one chapter of the Darkquake series per week (",).

In the next chapters, I will explore the idea of a ten thousand year old civilization, as represented by the Sari Confederacy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 14. Pana in Bale, Part 2>

‘Damn!’ Alwana exclaimed. ‘Who could possibly know who you are in another realm across the Tela?’

“I have my suspicions but at that time I was shocked. I realized I was under the complete mercy of the letter senders, and that I would have to meet them. So I went to the rendezvous. It was the same Esdi girl that approached me in the bathroom.

She motioned for me to follow her. We went over to a mall beside my hotel, and entered a cinema. We sat side by side in the dark at the back, where there were few people. The girl wasted no time.

‘You are Pana. I’ll be honest; I’m a foreign agent in Deceptive Disguise. However, trust me that I am your ally. Now listen well, because the fate of our worlds depends on what we do.’

For the next several minutes she explained about the Sari and the Sun Drainer. How I could return to Tera during the interval when Tera and Bale merged. She passed on to me a USB drive that contained powerful spells for summoning Arch Wings.

And she told me how I could become ruler of this world.”

‘She told you to kill the reigning Supremo, in a one on one duel, didn’t she?’ Bodhi said with a sure tone to her voice.

‘You’ve guessed it, genius,’ Pana affirmed. ‘I guess it’s obvious that Bale’s darklings operate on the same Challenge Code as Tera’s Kindred and the darkling invaders during the Dark War. You claim what you kill.’

‘So how did you do it?’

“By my second month here I had become a world celebrity. The Esdi that slays darklings. My boss Bato managed to get an invitation to the Supremo’s Coliseum. I was to fight a series of darklings.

I turned out to be easier than I thought. I was paired with a series of Pawns. I managed to slay them all without pushing myself to the limit. Then that was supposed to be it. My spy friend advised me to do something more.

I surprised the crowd, including boss Bato, by requesting the Supremo that I Challenge any Adept in the audience. The darklings laughed, amused; the humans gawped, shocked. No human had ever beaten an Adept in a duel. Presently, the Supremo signaled at one of his subalterns to accept my Challenge. The Adept was a Dan 11. We fought one on one. I had on a light armor and a knife as usual. This time, I moved as fast as my abilities in my Child Aspect would allow me. It turned out I was much faster than the Adept. I slew it by jamming my knife into its maxilla, up through its ethmoid bone, and into its brain.

I kept on Challenging. Three more Adepts answered, a Dan 13, 17, and 19. I slew them all. By this time, the mood of the darklings had changed from amusement to shock. There was a human that was actually killing winged darklings! At this point, the Supremo stood up and asked me if I, a mere human, dare Challenge a Master.

Spy Girl had predicted that this moment would come. She had informed me that the Supremo had eliminated every darkling of Senior Regent rank and above as a threat to his political power. If I killed the Supremo, the highest Dans left that could Challenge me were the Junior Regents, in Tera the Dans 51 to 60. Those I could handle in one on one fights.

I called out ‘Supremo of Bale, I Challenge you!’

The Supremo was an ancient High Demon King, a Dan 97. Against such a creature, I knew I had only one chance. I should shoot my arrow into the Supremo’s eye while it was open. If he closed his eyes, I’m doomed. My arrow can’t penetrate the closed eyelid of a High Demon or any part of its skin.

The way to make him keep his eye open is by triggering him to attack physically. On the attack, any darkling opens its eyes by reflex in order to deliver its blows more efficiently.

The Supremo stared at me in disbelief. I yelled at him that he was a coward, cementing his power by assassinating and executing subalterns on the slightest of excuses, and not even being able to stand up to a mere girl.

The Supremo roared and sprang down at me from his box, talons extended for a killing blow. Naturally he kept his eyes open to see where I was. I instantaneously transformed into my Arrow Aspect and shot him through the eye in midair. He fell at my feet. I could still see the surprised look upon his dead face before he dissipated.

Spy Girl had told me very definitively that once I had slain the Supremo, I had to act fast in order to cement my claim. I followed her advice to the letter. I spoke in a dark-powered voice to the Hierarchy in the tiers above me. ‘I am Pana, a darkling like you. I Occurred two months ago in a darkquake. I have issued a Challenge to your Supremo and have slain him in a one on one combat. I claim my right to rule this world.’

I immediately jumped into the Hierarchs’ box and faced them. ‘Anyone here Challenge me?’

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: One the Junior Regents, a Dan 53, to my left growled. Apparently she thought I had to string up my bow in order to shoot her. Miss Spy Girl had also told me of this; that the darklings here had never had experience with a Salig Commando, and simply would not know how to fight me. I threw my arrow into the Dan 53’s eye backhand, piercing her brain.

Another Junior Regent, a Dan 59 leaped at me a claw outstretched, not knowing I could don on battle gauntlets. As he was reaching for me, I willed my gauntlets to appear. I jammed my gauntleted right hand into his claw, breaking the metacarpals, then thrust my left hand, fingers stiffened, into his nose, sphenoid, and midbrain.

Simultaneously, another Dan 53 was also leaping toward my back. I thrust out my suddenly booted foot straight at it. The combat boot’s spiked tip entered his eye and pierced his brain.

Six of the darkling Princes had crouched, readying themselves to attack but holding back, not knowing exactly what was happening or what I was. I shot all of them through the eye with my arrow. Apparently they did not know I could reacquire moving targets in milliseconds, reload at the speed of sound, and shoot my arrow at nearly light speed. They weren’t even moving but just standing there, which made my job easier and faster than usual. Darklings that invade Tera know to defend their eyes from a Salig Commando, but these did not do so. I suddenly realized I could shoot all of the remaining ones down. The higher Dans were already dusted off. But I should not do that. Without the Hierarchy, Bale would be thrown into a civil war among competing darkling factions.

At this point the Hierarch you know as Taklong stood up and raised his hand in a stiff salute. ‘I accept you, darkling Pana, as my Suprema.’

I was surprised. Spy Girl had proven right again. That Taklong would come to my side. She said that he had been an odd man out of the higher Dans and was marked for termination by the Supremo. I later learned that she had in fact talked to Taklong beforehand and secured his cooperation.

Spy Girl also mentioned that approximately 50 lower Dans were known to be particularly loyal to the Supremo or had bad attitudes. She had advised me that when I take over, it was best to eliminate them then and there before they could conjure up plots against me in the future. I backed off until the edge of the tier so I could survey the Hierarchs. She was right. 51 Hierarchs were openly glaring and growling. I let loose my arrow 51 times in a second or two. If they all had jumped me simultaneously, I would have been overwhelmed, but they were still confused at the turn of events, and were offering themselves to me as stationary targets. Most of them were lower Dans, whose bones my arrow could penetrate. I shot most of them though the heart instead of the head, sacrificing accuracy for speed.

‘We are having a change in administration,’ my dark-powered voice boomed out. ‘Darklings that growl and glare at me are considered Challengers. Anyone dispute this?’

One actually snarled at me. I shot her dead.

‘All of you kneel before me and swear the Baleian Oath of Fealty,’ I commanded.

‘I swear I am loyal to Pana as Suprema of Bale,’ Taklong immediately announced, kneeling. Most of the remaining Hierarchs followed suit.

Another dozen or so Hierarchs had kneeled but did not verbally swear allegiance, apparently still bewildered. I shot these confused silent ones dead. Spy Girl had advised me that the more ruthless I seemed to be, the better.

In the end only 23 of the Hierarchs remained alive. Only Taklong was of Junior Regent rank. Spy Girl had told me that this could happen, and that about two dozen were the ideal number of Hierarchs for me to rule Bale. Too many and there could be too many conspiracies to catch in their early stages. Too few and there would be less check and balance among the Hierarch factions, to tell on each other if there are plots against me.”

‘And I was right wasn’t I?’ An Esdi servant girl walked in through a backdoor hidden behind a curtain.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Annie K>

I'm curious if some of the Hungarian and other Eastern European folk dances have similarities to some of our dances from Western Visayas? Here are examples:

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